Why having a good fight can be great for business – Part 1

You can discover lessons everywhere.

Even in mediocre American comedies.

Here’s why. In The Internship, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star as washed-up redundant sales guys who are teamed up with a gang of young tech hopefuls eager to win permanent jobs at Google. As part of the gruelling selection process the team are given tasks they must successfully complete. One task requires the team to create a new app that will beat all the other hopeful teams’ apps and in the process win them permanent jobs at the search giant.

As you can imagine, these young hopefuls aren’t so delighted these old sales dinosaurs are part of their team and their progress is blighted with constant bickering. Yet, rather than lament the situation Owen Wilson’s character frames their altercation in a rather impressive way when he says:

“I’m loving this friction. It’s how you get fires started”

Think about that for a second.

Rather than dejectedly looking at conflict within a team as a negative, Wilson reframes the situation to the team’s advantage. He’s right to do so. Consider this.

The last time you came up with a great idea, did everyone you spoke to about it simply say ‘yes, that’s good’? Or did you experience conflict, confusion and perhaps criticism?

Ok, if you’re working in a collaborative environment such as Google or Apple HQ bouncing ideas off each other as a matter of work, then probably not.

But for the rest of us, a little bit of conflict is what we expect whenever we come up with or suggest something new. How often do we see this as a negative thing? Is it a negative thing?

Here’s the lesson today: think about conflict in your work and personal life and think about what arises as a result of it.

Progress is often made when two conflicting ideas crash together and something new emerges or when two ideas collide and one wins out over the other. Either way, something new and different emerges, even if it is a changed point of view.

Think back to your business. What have been the turning points? And have they revolved around conflict of some sort?

I’ve got a little more philosophical than my usual practical advice for this week’s lesson but please bear with me.

I’m ending this post now, because there’s going to be a follow up that builds on how we think about conflict. Next week I’ll discuss how to use conflict to your advantage and reveal some methods to do this.

But for this week, just have a think about conflict and how it has affected you and your business.

That’s all.




If you’d like to see the film, here’s an affiliate link to the DVD on Amazon (this is literally the only way I can get an image of The Internship onto this blog without invoking the ire of the film distributor)